‘Food for Thought’ exhibit serves up fun, fresh art

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 23, 2013

Art Center nourishes Full Circle Foundation

GROSSE POINTE CITY — With “Food for Thought,” the Grosse Pointe Art Center has fittingly teamed with another nonprofit, the Grosse Pointe Park-based Full Circle Foundation.

Art Center visitors who stop in between now and the end of the exhibit May 11 can learn more about Full Circle and volunteer opportunities with the group, including tending an edible garden that will once again be planted at 18300 E. Warren in Detroit, on the grounds of the Riverview Health and Rehabilitation Center. A community planting day kicks off the season from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 19, and gardeners are invited to register and bring their gardening gloves and other gear to plant herbs, flowers and produce. The food will be supplied to Services for Older Citizens’ new commercial kitchen facility, which opens June 1, said Mary Fodell, a member of the Full Circle Board of Directors.

“We want the community to be aware of that,” Full Circle volunteer Lindsey Kurtz, of Grosse Pointe Shores, said of the May 19 planting day. Volunteers are also needed throughout the growing season to water, weed and provide other care for the garden, which has picnic tables and benches where volunteers can take a break.

Full Circle offers career training and other services to current and former Grosse Pointe Public School System students who are classified as having learning disabilities, cognitive impairment or autism spectrum disorders. Full Circle’s clients will also be working on the organic garden, and some of them will be preparing food with the produce for SOC’s senior clients.

“We are definitely looking for volunteers and donations,” Kurtz said. “We have so many different opportunities for the community to be involved to support our growing programs.”

Full Circle also runs a resale shop, and donations of clothing and accessories are welcome. These can be taken to the store at 17006 Mack in the Park; contact them for hours and more information at (313) 469-6660 or www.fullcircle fdn.org. Gardening tools and related equipment are needed and can be brought there, as well, Kurtz said.

Kurtz said people can even sign up to volunteer for Full Circle while visiting the GPAC. During the “Food for Thought” opening reception April 19, she said they got about a dozen volunteers registered to help with various projects. Kurtz said they’re hoping to “raise awareness” of Full Circle.

This marks just the latest in a string of partnerships between the GPAC and fellow local nonprofits.

“They invited us to (collaborate),” Fodell said.

Art lovers who visit the new Grosse Pointe Art Center between now and May 11 are in for a real treat.

“Food for Thought,” jurored by Sue Carman-Vian, serves up a variety of creative tastes and textures based on the theme, many of them featuring food and more than a few featuring tongue-in-cheek humor. A crowd gathered in the new space for an opening reception April 19 that, of course, featured a range of snacks and beverages.

Best of show went to Gary Watts, of Birmingham, for the large oil painting “Transfiguration.” Watts’ model for the painting — Amber Krause, a woman from Detroit who’s holding a sliced papaya in the image — was on hand, as well.

“I don’t really consider it a portrait,” Watts said of his painting, which contains elements of classical and modern art. He found his model through friends in a very contemporary way, though —via a photo he saw on social media.

“My family background is Hungarian,” Watts said. “I’m accustomed to being around European art. Her facial features are very European.” The artist felt the young, fair-skinned, blonde Krause was “the perfect model” for this project.

Krause was seeing the painting for the first time at the reception. She said Watts had sent a photo of the painting to her by phone when he finished it.

“It’s fantastic,” Krause said of the award-winning work, which sold immediately.

The fruit in the painting has symbolic meaning.

“It has a duality — it has a sexual reference and it has a religious reference,” Watts said.

The image itself is about a pivotal time in someone’s life.

“It’s a moment when you experience … a feeling of transformation,” Watts said.

On the lighter side is second-place winner Harold Swanson’s clay work, “Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Kiln.” The Detroiter said he’s been taking classes at Pewabic Pottery for the last 20-30 years. His award-winning work consists of egg-shaped pieces assembled in a ceramic “basket.”

“I’ve been working on them for quite a while,” Swanson said of the eggs, which he explained were fired in different kilns at a variety of temperatures, and finished with a range of glazes to give each one its unique appearance.

Third-place honors went to Carolyn Coleman Sieffert, of Harper Woods, for her watercolor, “Cocktail Time.”

Honorable mention winners were Tim Burke, of Grosse Pointe Woods; Amy Fell, of Novi; Janet Kondziela, of Dearborn; and Jean Lannen, of Bloomfield Township. Lannen’s series of three photos, titled “Sunny Side Up,” feature cooked eggs wittily arranged to resemble human facial expressions.

A series of fanciful small paintings by Carman-Vian that reflect themes of fairytales and food are on display, as well.

Jackie Brooks, of Grosse Pointe Farms, received a special award for her short digital film, “Diet Disaster.” Shot in her home from her perspective, she said it’s her first foray into cinema. In “Diet Disaster,” the unseen female protagonist is in for a shock when she goes through the house in search of food.

“It’s a dark comedy,” said Brooks, who’s also on GPAC’s exhibitions committee. “It has a tragic ending. I think anyone who’s ever been on a diet can relate (to it). It was just to throw a little comic relief on dieting.”

Grosse Pointe City artist Linda Allen, a member of the GPAC board, had fun playing with food in “Carrot,” a digitally altered photograph of a “two-legged” carrot she found in a bag of carrots and shot for a series of images. Allen also created the miniature metal lunchbox piece, “Food for Thought,” which contains a series of food quotes on index cards that she has illustrated with clever, witty images.

“I had so much fun,” Allen said of both projects.

Angelo Sherman, of Detroit, shows a darker sense of humor with “The Chicken Juggler,” a surreal-looking oil painting of an elephant with pieces of chicken. Sherman said he wanted the image to convey the concept of a monster/super chef on TV who’s devouring chicken.

Out of 78 submissions from 42 artists, GPAC Director Amy DeBrunner said Carman-Vian selected 45 pieces by 28 artists for the show.

“What surprised me is that not everybody took food as a (literal) theme,” DeBrunner said of “Food for Thought,” which also features landscape aerial images of farms and portraits made from herbs, spices, gold leaf and coffee.

“It was a fun show,” Allen said. “I thought the juror did a great job. There was some really good humor, and there was a lot of good art. There was some nice flavor of good tastes.”

The opening reception also marked the GPAC’s grand opening in its new home.

“I love it,” Brooks said of the new gallery, which she contends is “more professional-looking.”

Fellow GPAC members, including Allen, agreed.

“The show looks really good and the space looks great,” GPAC board member Leslie Rentschler, of Grosse Pointe Park, said. “I’m blown away.”

Because she said the GPAC is “here for the long haul” — at least the next three years — Rentschler said she was happy the center had found such an ideal space for exhibits.

“I think this is the best (gallery space) they’ve had,” said Mark Brooks, of Grosse Pointe Farms, husband of Jackie Brooks. “It looks more like a gallery.”

Despite having many visitors in a space less than half the size of the GPAC’s previous gallery, attendees didn’t feel like the center was cramped.

“It’s nice when there’s a lot of people,” Jackie Brooks said. “It gives it such an energy.”

“Food for Thought” will be on display through May 11. The GPAC is now located at 17118 Kercheval in the Village. Gallery hours are noon-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (313) 881-3454, email gpaa@grossepointeartcenter.org or visit www.grosse pointeartcenter.org.